The Dolphins will be just fine with JAY CUTLER taking over for Ryan Tannehill, who is out for the year with a knee injury. The best season of Cutler's career came in Chicago in 2015—his only one playing for ADAM GASE, who was the Bears' coordinator. Historically, Cutler's poor decisions and mechanic deficiencies tend to come late in downs; Gase's system will require that Cutler get the ball out early.
• No NFL coach loves any formation more than Gase loves an unbalanced three-by-one (three wide receivers to one side and a tight end alone on the other). The unusual distribution forces a defense to reveal if it is in man or zone coverage. It also creates opportunities to flood one side of the field or set up downfield crossing patterns. The problem with the Dolphins' three-by-one sets in '16 was that they had no tight end threat, which meant that Tannehill almost never threw to the weak side. That's why Miami essentially traded left tackle Branden Albert to the Jaguars for JULIUS THOMAS, whom Gase used so effectively as the coordinator in Denver.
• Miami felt comfortable dealing Albert because of last year's first-round pick, LAREMY TUNSIL. His athleticism is unbelievable. The Dolphins should now be even better in their staple wide receiver screen game—at least on passes to the left, where Tunsil can get out in front on the perimeter.
• Miami has a zone-based rushing attack, which you wouldn't think would suit 6-foot, 223-pound JAY AJAYI. Speed, which Ajayi lacks, may seem important in a zone scheme, but it's less so than the ability to plant a foot and cut downhill. Here, Ajayi thrives. And once he gets rolling, he's difficult to tackle.
• First-time defensive coordinator MATT BURKE, replacing the departed Vance Joseph, has two disruptive tackles for his straightforward 4--3 zone scheme. One we all know: four-time All-Pro NDAMUKONG SUH. His less renowned counterpart is third-year man JORDAN PHILLIPS. At 6'6" and 333 pounds, Phillips has the size to play nose shade (the gap between the guard and center) and the quickness to cross over a blocker and penetrate.
"THE BEST SEASON OF CUTLER'S CAREER CAME IN CHICAGO IN 2015—HIS ONLY ONE PLAYING FOR GASE."
SI'S 2017 PREDICTION
2016 RECORD 10--6
ANDY BENOIT'S 400 MMQB ON.SI.COM/400
51 NDAMUKONG SUH DT
80 MIKE POUNCEY C
134 CAMERON WAKE DE
142 RESHAD JONES SS
178 JARVIS LANDRY WR
182 LAREMY TUNSIL T
186 JAY AJAYI RB
241 JORDAN PHILLIPS DT
275 LAWRENCE TIMMONS LB
327 JULIUS THOMAS TE
330 ANDRE BRANCH DE
347 RYAN TANNEHILL QB [OUT FOR SEASON]
OUT FOR SEASON